Retreat1_INVENTURA, Iowa—More than 500 women from across Iowa explored “The Heart of Friendship” at the Iowa Association of Regular Baptist Churches Ladies’ Retreat held at Iowa Regular Baptist Camp.

The theme came from the book Getting to the Heart of Friendships by Amy Baker. Amy led a workshop Friday afternoon titled “The Cheap Comfort of Self-Pity” and spoke three additional times addressing how sinful tendencies affect relationships and how God’s Word speaks to specific heart issues.

“The retreat began with an afternoon of workshops intended to build friendships and prepare women for the main sessions,” says Sydney Millage of Faith Baptist Church, Iowa City. The church cohosted the retreat with Harvest Baptist, a church plant in Williamsburg, “which is a wonderful story of friendship itself,” says Sydney. “More than 60 women from our host churches attended the retreat and helped in countless ways.”

The workshops created a relaxed, fun atmosphere to prepare the women for Amy Baker’s challenge from God’ Word. Activities included a digital scavenger hunt with friends, a photo corner with a silver tea set and dress-up supplies, a putt-putt golf tournament, friendship-bracelet station, card-making station, and Sara Skinner’s workshop on “Help for the Conversationally Challenged.”

Speaker Sara Skinner loves studying God’s Word and sharing it with other women, encouraging their walk with God one-on-one and in Bible studies, freelance writing, and public speaking. She has a Facebook group, Women on God’s Mission, and writes a blog by the same name.

Retreat3_INDr. Amy Baker is a counselor and instructor with Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries of Lafayette, Ind. She heads Faith Resources, Ministry Resources, and Vision of Hope, all ministries of Faith Church in Lafayette. Vision of Hope, recipient of some of the ladies’ workshop projects, offers a faith-based residential treatment program for young women. The workshop projects included T-shirt bags, fabric covers for composition books, and decorative index cards for Scripture memory—all chosen from a list provided by Vision of Hope.

The messages from God’s Word touched hearts. Attendee Sherry Newman says, “I was challenged with the reminder that perhaps I might be the answer to someone’s prayer because perhaps this lady in front of me has one of her loved ones praying that I will be bold enough to talk with her about Christ.” Kim Stilwell says, “I came away from the retreat with a desire to be a better friend. Though I don’t think either Amy or Sara put it into these specific words, the overall lesson I learned was that I need to focus on others and Christ. My desire should not be what I can get out of the friendship. My desire should be to point my friends to Christ and to be a loving friend to them.”

The women of Iowa can now look forward to next year’s retreat: The Women’s Renew Conference.